All Book Reviews

The Young Elites
Lu, Marie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

(Slight Spoiler Alert)
The Young Elites is a book of teens and young adults who are very powerful
(literally). The main character Adelina heard about The Elites when she was
a child but it wasn’t until a major event in her life when she figured she
was apart of them. As a child Adelina’s mother died of the same disease
that killed thousands of adults and gave children markings making them
malfettos and very few elites. Since Adelina’s mother died when she was
very young and Adelina became a malfetto it left her vulnerable of abuse from
her father. Adelina developed a hatred for her father but always stayed loyal
to her sister Violetta. Violetta and Adelina kept each other calm.

One day Adelnia decided to escape from her father’s madness. On her way
Adelina does a crime discovering her abilities. Adelina gets in lots of
trouble with the Inquisition but is able to escape. When Adelina escapes she
joins the Dagger Society a group of young elites. The Dagger Society has a
goal to wipe out the Inquisitors. Within the goal Adelina has some drama
within the group. Adelina is relatable to teens experiencing intensified
versions of how teens feel such as passion, anger, happiness, and much more.

Reviewer's Name: Alexia
Palacio, R. J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

In the beginning of the book August has a facial
deformity called Treacher Collins syndrome where his ear is lower than the
ears are supposed to be. He has not gone to a regular school ever so in fifth
grade his mom has decided that she does not want to

Reviewer's Name: Mia G.
The Wedding Party Cover
Guillory, Jasmine
3 stars = Pretty Good

Maddie and Theo have known and disliked each other for a long time - as long as they've had the same best friend, the newly engaged Alexa Munroe. When they end up hooking up after Alexa's engagement party, it was unexpected for both of them to say the least. They both end up in the wedding party, and they know they will be thrown together more often. When they find themselves unable to resist a second hook-up, they put some rules into place, the chief one being that they'd only hook up until the wedding and then they'd go their separate ways forever.

If you read that synopsis and thought that you knew exactly where this book is headed, then you are correct! This is a very straightforward romance. What you see is what you get. I was expecting a little more. I thought it would be a comedy or maybe there would be some political commentary since our leads are both people of color but neither of those things were present. That said, I actually found the straight-up nature of this read to be surprisingly refreshing. I knew exactly what I was going to get and I got it. I didn’t learn anything new, and some aspects of the story were frustrating (for example, they don’t hate each other so much as tolerate each other with mild annoyance) , but all was resolved by the end. It was a good palate cleanser, and next time I don’t know what I’m in the mood for, I may pick up a Guillory book.

To be completely honest, I don’t read a ton of romance (which is how I would classify this book, perhaps mistakenly). If you like contemporary romance, I see no reason that you wouldn’t like this one – its a sexy read with believable characters and scenarios. 3 stars. Despite myself, I ended up kind of liking it.

Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley publishing for the advance copy which I got in exchange for an unbiased review. The Wedding Party will be available on 16 July, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Ember Falls
Smith, S.D.
4 stars = Really Good

Being a fan of children’s series like The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as
a lover of rabbits (owning two Flemish giants as pets), I was glad to get
back into the Green Ember series with the second book, Ember Falls.
Obviously, as this series is mainly geared toward children, there were a few
points of the plot of this second book that I either predicted from the start
or could see coming from a mile away. In any case, the world building that
continued with this book was top notch, despite certainly feeling like a
“linking” part of the series.

While The Green Ember could stand on its own and laid the groundwork for the
books that came after it, Ember Falls certainly needs its predecessor to make
sense. It also seems to rely on the next book in the series to reach some
conclusion. This is an issue that often arises in book series. The saga of
the story as a whole (across numerous books) is prioritized over focusing on
a complete plot for each book. Don’t get me wrong: I still want to see
where this series goes; however, it’s a little infuriating when I don’t
have access to the next book in the series yet.

Ember Falls inherits a lot of what I liked and disliked about The Green
Ember. This is likely going to be the case for the series as a whole. The
individual characters are well-rounded and have clear motivations. However,
the fact that they are rabbits seems to be often overlooked. These characters
mostly act like ordinary people and only occasionally use their unique
lagomorph attributes to advance the plot (same goes for the enemies as well).
Other than that, this is certainly a series I’ll be reading to my children

An adequate progression of the Green Ember series, I give Ember Falls 4.0
stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Martin, George R. R.
4 stars = Really Good

Those who are familiar with George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire fantasy
series may be lamenting the end of the semi-faithful Game of Thrones
television show. In the time we’ll all have to wait until the next Song of
Ice and Fire book comes out, there are other little stories from this author
to satiate our appetite. Nightflyers is a short novella by Martin that also
seems to be hinging itself on the success of Game of Thrones, albeit in the
science fiction genre instead of high fantasy.

Considering how verbose Martin can get with his works, it was almost
refreshing to read a story that was so focused and short. Granted, even
though Nightflyers is science fiction, all of the notable George R.R. Martin
elements were present: mainly, sex and violence. Depending on your tolerance
of these elements, I can say that they’re at least naturally integrated
with this novella. Martin certainly seemed to have an adequate grasp of
sci-fi to give this story a satisfying twist that drove the plot into the

Without giving too much away, I did appreciate the science (and
pseudo-science) that was used to create an interesting story. Or, at least,
the story was written in such a way—with a dash of horror sprinkled in to
engage the reader—that prevented me from being bored with it. If it had
been expanded out into a full-size book, I’m sure I could see where plenty
of fluff could have been added in to reach the required word count. In the
end, I’m glad that Martin kept this short, which works primarily to the
story’s benefit.

A quintessential George R.R. Martin sci-fi novella, I give Nightflyers 4.0
stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Crichton, Michael
3 stars = Pretty Good

I liked Michael Crichton's writing. And what I mean by this is that I liked
Jurassic Park (and to a lesser extent, The Lost World). Recently, I’ve been
delving into a few of his other works, like Timeline and Micro. I understand
that authors like Crichton excel in their genre—in this case, the
technological thriller—but at what point does it just become the same old
song and dance? Sure, I know a different author completed Micro and released
posthumously. However, it mostly just felt like another re-hash of Jurassic
Park mixed with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989).

To Crichton’s credit, I feel his exploration of complex scientific
principles in his writing are easy to understand and mostly accurate. For
Micro, each bit of information that drove the plot seemed to make sense from
a scientific standpoint. This was a plus considering how often the “shrink
ray” sci-fi trope is done incorrectly. Of course, most places were pretty
obvious where the science was being inserted since they didn’t necessarily
flow as well as the other parts of the book.

My main qualm with Micro, aside from it containing all the standard Crichton
tropes (e.g., “evil corporations”), is how the characters were
practically indistinguishable from each other. The fact that they all
primarily came from the same scientific laboratory and were thrust into the
dangerous world of the microscopic didn’t help to keep track of who died
and who lived. It was almost as if the author needed a large group of
faceless characters to feed into the “drama” of trying to survive and
return to standard size. None of their demises stuck with me other than being
particularly grotesque and cringe-worthy.

A semi-unoriginal mashup of Jurassic Park and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, I
give Micro 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Book Cover
Garcia, Kami
3 stars = Pretty Good

After a car accident that killed her mother, Raven is living with her her new mom (her aunt) and foster sister Max, in New Orleans. In addition to losing her mother in the accident, Raven lost all of her memories. Adding to that, she can hear the thoughts and feelings of those around her. As she tries to remember who she was, Raven is making new friends and learning that what matters is who she is, and who she chooses to be going forward. That is, until her past catches up with her...

I'm not at all familiar with the Teen Titans but know enough to know that Raven's a popular character from that series. And I can see why! In this iteration, she immediately (albeit accidentally) puts mean girls in their place, and stands up for those being bullied, which I like. Memory loss may not be the most original way to begin an origin story, but its certainly an effective way to slowly introduce the audience to the character, and it was used to good effect here. The high school bits were just right - prom, foiled romance, mean girls - Garcia nails those elements. I just wish there had been a bit more to the story. I liked it, but it all felt a bit trite. Its a perfectly good origin story, but there's nothing new here. Just when it starts to get really interesting, it ends. I do hope there is a sequel planned.

For me, the thing that can really make-or-break a graphic novel is art, and the art in this is wonderful. The coloring was just right - its mostly purples, blacks, light blues and beige, and the muted palatte really sets and fit in with the overall tone. When a red character emerges, he really pops. Also, sometimes I find artwork to be confusing (especially in action sequences), but that was not at all the case here. In fact, this would be excellent graphic novel for those who are just starting out with the medium.

TLDR: A run of the mill but nonetheless entertaining origin story that will delight teenagers (and adults) who aren't sick of superheroes.

Overall, this is a really solid graphic novel for teens that I'll probably end up booktalking. 3 stars - it was pretty good!

Thanks to DC Ink and Netgalley for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Teen Titans: Raven will be released on 02 Jul, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
William Shakespeare's: The Jedi Doth Return
Doescher, Ian
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Of the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi has been my favorite
for as long as I can remember. I enjoyed how there was some finality to the
stories started back in A New Hope, and Empire Strikes Back. Plus, there were
a ton of neat creatures (like the Rancor and Sarlacc) and machines (like the
Speeder bikes and AT-STs) that grabbed my attention from a young age. Sure, I
can understand the depth of Empire Strikes Back now that I’m an adult, but
Return of the Jedi always holds that element of nostalgia for me.

So, how does the Shakespearean version of my favorite Star Wars story stack
up? If anything, Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return is consistent with its
predecessors, Verily, a New Hope and The Empire Striketh Back . I enjoyed the
voice acting and the little changes that made the audiobook more than just a
Shakespearean reading of the screenplay. Of course, having listened to three
books of this fantastic mashup, it has almost overstayed its welcome. Almost.
I still think it’s a genius fusion of two pop culture masterpieces, but at
what point does it lose its originality?

Sure, The Jedi Doth Return adds some new bits like songs (which land just
about as well as the “added” songs in the 1997 Special Edition
re-release). Overall, though, I was a little taken aback at how little
dialogue there was in it. Most of the action was described either in chorus
or soliloquy, which merely highlighted how much action was present in the
original movie. This is great for an action-packed conclusion on the big
screen, but it doesn’t land quite as well on the printed page (or
audiobook). Despite this, I still think fans of either Star Wars or
Shakespeare (or both) should give it a read.

Another consistently funny mash-up of archaic speech and futuristic sci-fi, I
give Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Carve the Mark
Roth, Veronica
4 stars = Really Good

Carve the Mark, by Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series, is told in a fantasy/sci-fi world, where the nations of Shotet and Thuvhe co-inhabit one planet, but not without a whole lot of conflict. One of our two main protaganists, Akos Kereseth, is the son of of Thuvhe's oracles, and he has a dark fate: "The third child of the family Kereseth will die in service to the family Noavek." Our other protaganist, Cyra Noavek, is the little sister of Ryzek Noavek, the cruel and sadistic ruler of the Shotet nation, and her currentgift (a kind of superpower) is to cause instant pain to anyone who touches her and be in constant pain due to this currentgift. When the Assembly (the equivalent of an intergalactic government) reveals the fates of all fated Thuvhesit citizens, Akos' family is attacked and his father is killed, and Akos and his brother Eijeh, fated to become the next Thuvhesit oracle after his mother, are kidnapped by Shotet soldiers and transported across the Divide (a field that seperates Thuvhe and Shotet). Ryzek Noavek, using his current gift, tries to obtain Eijeh's gift of prophecy by destroying Eijeh's mind, and Akos is hopelessly unable to rescue him. Meanwhile, Akos is put into the service of Cyra Noavek after Ryzek discovers that his current gift can help relieve Cyra's constant agony. In this complicated situation, Akos begins to fall in love with Cyra, although it is difficult to get past his resentment towards her and her people, and when they are both put in danger of Ryzek's crazy schemes, their relationship is truly put to
the test.

I really, really, really enjoyed this book. The characters are compelling as well as the story, which was a plot unlike anything I had ever read or seen before. The writing was good, although some humor was definitely lacking. The author did a good job of introducing many characters without taking the focus away from the main characters or making the story too confusing. The world-building was thorough, although at some points, it became a bit tangled, causing me to have to go back and reread some previously mentioned details. If I could, I would rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Here's the official summary (I think it's better than what I wrote): "In a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift. "Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra's currentgift gives her pain and power--something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother's hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows. "Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual current-gift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive--no matter what the cost. "Then Akos is thrust into Cyra's world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy each other?

"Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth's stunning portrayal of the power of friendship--and love--in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts."

Reviewer's Name: Martha
How to Give Your Cat a Bath in Five Easy Steps
Winstanley, Nicola
4 stars = Really Good

It’s not easy to give a cat a bath as you will soon realize when you read this book! Mr. Flea, the cat in this book, is NOT agreeable to having a bath. The five simple steps that start the book turn into much more work than Mr. Flea’s owner is expecting. Enjoy this book and its pictures and learn what might be the best way to bathe a cat.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Cashore, Kristin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

In the novel "Fire" by Kristin Cashore we are given the tragic back story of the human-monster Fire. With the history of her cruel dead father Cansrel, Fire is determined to help the royal family restore the Dells to the glory it once was. After a three week journey to the royal palace Fire agrees to stay there to help interrogate transgressors, enemy spies, and any accused of treason. By using her breath taking beautie and control of the mind Fire helps prince Brigan discover very valid secrets and save the Dells.

Reviewer's Name: Aida
What Is Inside THIS Box?
Daywalt, Drew
4 stars = Really Good

Monkey and Cake are asking big questions in this easy reader. They are curious about the magical cat that’s inside the box. Why does it disappear when they open the box? How do they know if the cat is really in the box when it is closed? When the box is closed, they can think about anything they want to be inside. It’s a dilemma, isn’t it? See what happens when Monkey & Cat walk away from the box. This is a beautifully illustrated fun book for those who are learning to read.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös
Heiligman, Deborah
3 stars = Pretty Good

Once there was a boy who loved math. He loved math so much that he spent all of his time thinking about numbers. He spent so much time with math that he couldn’t do many things that ordinary people do. The biography tells the story of Paul Erdos, one of the greatest mathematicians, and how he found his way in the world sharing his ideas and love of math.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Stevenson, Noelle
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Do you like magical creatures? Do you like actually well-executed pop-culture references? Do you like respectfully handled minority representation? Then the Lumberjanes series is definitely for you! It follows the adventures of five girls at a very unusual summer camp - Ripley, Jo, Mal, Molly, and April. Together, they encounter all manner of magical beasts, artifacts and locations, all while bonding with each other & following their motto of 'Friendship to the MAX!'

The series also has representation to offer, as I previously mentioned. With not only a main-cast lesbian couple, but a trans character,a nonbinary character, and several characters of color, it does well showing the diversity that exists in our world. "But, the art! What do you have to say about the art?" I hear you ask. Well, being a comic, it does have to convey much of its story through images. Through volumes, the art style does shift as different artists draw for Lumberjanes, but it consistently holds in a quality range of 'good' to 'great'. The main artist's style is a little unusual & a bit difficult to get used to, but it'll quickly grow on most readers. Overall, the Lumberjanes series is worth a read, even if it doesn't quite sound like your thing. It's charming and sure to delight pre-teen and teen readers.

Reviewer's Name: Olivia F.
The City of Ember
DuPrau, Jeanne
4 stars = Really Good

The City of Ember is a fictional book in which the author explains a dystopian society. In this society young people are given their jobs that they must do for the rest of their lives. The city is also falling apart because they are running out of supplies like food and are running out of an energy source. Their "government" system is corrupt making it impossible for change to easily happen. The main characters, Lina and Doon, are determined to find life outside of their enclosed city so they embark on a journey. On this journey they face many struggles but eventually make it out with hopes of a better life.

I would recommend this book. "The City of Ember" is a fun, easy book to read. I read it the first time because I was in battle of the books. I couldn't relate to the characters. It wasn't predictable and it was a good book.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O
Book Review: According to a Source
Stern, Abby
4 stars = Really Good

I can't believe I'm even saying this, but I really enjoyed this novel. It's about a tabloid reporter in Hollywood and is as vapid of a novel as you can probably imagine. Nonetheless, I found myself wanting to carve out time to read it. Much like cotton candy, it was empty calories but oh so good. Actually, while it starts out vapid, plot elements like friendships, romantic relationships, and family relationships are visited with surprising aplomb. Should I be reading the great American novel instead of this? Perhaps, but sometimes it's necessary to eat junk food to appreciate quality cuisine.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Between Shades of Gray
Sepetys, Ruta
4 stars = Really Good

Taking place during WWII... Lina, a fifteen-year-old girl, lives a peaceful and normal life drawing and going to school but when the NKVD, better known as Soviet officers, force them to leave, adventure and chaos abduct Lina's normal lifestyle. Lina, her brother Jonas, and her mom Elena have to travel by train living with the bare minimum to survive off of. From Soviet officers forcing them to work to stealing food to survive, Lina has to find a way to outlast WWII and the capture of her family. Her main goal through all this; to find her dad. This dramatic adventure written by Ruta Sepetys will pull you off your seat.
Reviewer's Age: 15

Reviewer's Name: Aiden F
United As One
Lore, Pittacus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

The final battle is upon the Loric. They have prepared for this their entire lives and the time has finally come. However, will all that they have done be enough to defeat Setrakus Ra. Pittacus Lore has written a thrilling conclusion to this blockbuster series. This action packed adventure is wonderful and a great read. I highly recommend this book to all middle and high school aged readers.

Reviewer's Name: John B
The Marvels
Selznick, Brian
4 stars = Really Good

This book begins on a ship at sea with a boy named Billy Marvel. He survives a terrible shipwreck and later finds work in a London theatre. There his family lives for generations as brilliant actors--some who are the best kind of people, some who are awful people. All of the family are actors and love the stage and spotlight until young Leontes Marvel. He hates acting, misses his cues, and can’t remember his lines. His parents are ashamed and banish him from the stage. He decides that his destiny lies somewhere else so he runs away.

A century later, Joseph Jervis, another runaway, finds a place to stay with an uncle in London. Grumpy Uncle Albert and his strange but beautiful house lure Joseph on a search for clues. He begins to think that he might be related to the Marvels and begins an incredible adventure to find out who he truly is.

I really enjoyed this book. During the mystery, I felt like I was right alongside Joseph as he found clues to his mysterious past. I am happy that I figured out the mystery before Joseph did. The story had a very sad ending, but overall stayed pretty bright. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Brian Selznik’s other books, mysteries, or heartfelt books.

Reviewer's Name: Ben C
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good

"Scarlet" is the second book of Marissa Meyer's series, "The Lunar Chronicles". We left off with new information on Cinder's true identity and her trapped in jail. With gifts from Dr. Erland Cinder must pull a daring escape from prison, using her wits and new allies to push her towards her next goal.
Meanwhile, Scarlet has been waiting weeks for information on her grandmother's disappearance. When nothing turns up, she is forced to turn to more sketchy sources.
Marissa Meyer expertly weaves the two view points to keep the series moving in the dashing book known as "Scarlet".
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Adia R